Overloaded ferry leads to fine

The Duchess M
The Duchess M

A FERRY company has been caught out for carrying too many passengers.

The Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company packed an extra 30 people onto a ferry from Gravesend to Tilbury – and failed to report it to coastguards.

At Dartford Magistrates' Court, the company was slapped with a £18,000 fine for the offence, and had to pay £9,000 to cover costs for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

On August 30, 2006, just as the Duchess M was due to set off from Gravesend, the Port of London Authority (PLA) received an anonymous phone call from someone on board the ferry, warning it was carrying between 90 and 110 passengers.

When owner John Potter called in to say they were about to set off, he said it was carrying 63 passengers.

Captain Andrew Phillips, prosecuting officer for the MCA, said: "If anything serious had happened, the London coastguards would only be looking for those 63 people, leaving the extra 30 unaccounted for."

Mr Potter admitted one offence under the Merchant Shipping Regulations 1995, for allowing the vessel to proceed on a voyage with a greater number of passengers on board than stated on the ship's Passenger Certificate.

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